14 1:1 Questions [Lew]

Framing is everything. And in this particular case a broader framing makes the content significantly more useful.

When I first read Claire Lew’s

14 Questions to Ask an Underperforming Employee During a One-on-One

I didn’t delve too deep into it. Dealing with underperformance was not something that was present for me at the time, so it felt irrelevant. But I knew that even in this narrow frame, it will be relevant for me at some point, so I filed it away to read later.

I realized that I stumbled upon a hidden gem the first time I found myself referencing the article. In a context that had nothing to do with underperformance. We were working on equipping managers with better tools to have career development conversations with their teammates and the questions that Claire proposed in her article seemed relevant.

These questions are just great questions for every manager to ask their teammates at some point. So without further ado, here they are:

  1. Is it clear what needs to get done? How can I make the goals or expectations clearer?
  2. Is the level of quality that’s required for this work clear? What examples or details can I provide to clarify the level of quality that’s needed?
  3. Am I being respectful of the amount of time you have to accomplish something? Can I be doing a better job of protecting your time?
  4. Do you feel you’re being set up to fail in any way? Are my expectations realistic? What am I asking that we should adjust so it’s more reasonable?
  5. Do you have the tools and resources to do your job well?
  6. Have I given you enough context about why this work is important, who the work is for, or any other information that is crucial to do your job well?
  7. What’s irked you or rubbed you the wrong way about my management style? Does my tone come off the wrong way? Do I follow-up too frequently with you, not giving you space to breathe?
  8. How have you been feeling about your own performance lately? Where do you see opportunities to improve, if any?
  9. What are you most enjoying about the work you’re doing? What part of the work is inspiring, motivating, and energizing, if any?
  10. What part of the work do you feel stuck? What have you been trying the “crack the nut” on, but it feels like you’re banging your head?
  11. What part of the work is “meh”? What tasks have you feeling bored or ambivalent about?
  12. When’s the last time you got to talk to or connect with a customer who benefited from the work you did? Would you like more opportunities to do that, and should make that happen?
  13. Do you feel you’re playing to your strengths in your role? Where do you feel like there is a steep learning curve for you?
  14. Would you say you’re feeling optimistic, pessimistic or somewhere in the middle about the company’s future?
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14 1:1 Questions [Lew]

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